Edith Zimmerman is founding editor of The Hairpin and a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine. She’s also written for GQ, Elle, The Awl and This American Life

I’m not a doctor, but … (always a confidence-inspiring way to start a sentence!), these pieces on healthcare were two of the best articles I read this year.

Atul Gawande’s “Two Hundred Years of Surgery,” New England Journal of Medicine

I like everything by Atul Gawande, who is somehow both an accomplished surgeon and a New Yorker staff writer—I don’t know if I’d rather be his mother, wife, or patient, although I would DEFINITELY not want to be his daughter. (“Hey Dad, I just got eight retweets for my joke about yogurt, are you proud?”) Anyway, this piece was a fascinating look at the history of surgery, told with warmth and humor.

Michael Wolff’s “Let My Mother Die,” New York magazine

On the current state of end-of-life care in America, and how it can and should be improved. One of the most affecting, excellent articles I’ve ever read.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012

(Photo by Victor G. Jeffrys II)